In his new book, Sporting KC's popular goalie Jimmy Nielsen reveals how a hidden gambling addiction nearly ruined his life.
He said his gambling was so out of control that he could win $500,000 and lose it all a few hours later. He bet on sporting games through bookies and games of chance at casinos.
"In the gambling environment, you said, 'Easy come, easy go.' One night you're winning a lot of money and the next day you lose it all again," Nielsen said.
He said he decided to bare his soul to the world about his addiction in an effort to help others struggling with gambling issues.
"If someone reading my book can get help, I think it will have been very successful," he said. "When I go back and read through the book, it was like I was reading about another person."
Sporting KC was willing to let bygones by bygones when they signed Nielsen and realize that the bad days were in the past.
"If you don't want to quit gambling, nobody can help you," he explained. "It's you who needs to really, really, really want to quit."
And quitting is hard, he said.
"If I could get help, anyone can get help because I was one of the worst," he explained. "I asked for help and I got the right help."
And he still feels the urge to gamble.
"I was in Vegas with my wife last year, and walking through the casino I could feel that devil inside," he said.
He hasn't gambled in three years.
Nielsen was named the 2012 MLS goalie of the year. He lives in the Kansas City area with his wife and two young daughters.
He said his family and support he receives help keep the devil at bay.
"I'm not in that environment anymore and I don't want to meet those kinds of people, but I know they are out there," he said.
His book, Welcome to the Blue Heaven, is available in area bookstores.
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